Slow load times on websites can cause massive damage to your traffic and conversion rate. If you’ve ever sat at your computer frustrated waiting for your site to load, then these common culprits could be the cause of the issue. We will go over issues that are caused on the server/website end, and not issues related to your own personal internet
1. Server Performance
The very first thing that happens when a user lands on your website is that your browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc.) ends a ping to the server where your site is hosted. This is your browser asking for all the information and data needed to load the website.
If you are hosting your site on a server with low performance, it will take longer to respond to the ping. It does not matter how fast everything else is, server performance will always give your site a slow start.
If your site is hosted on a cheap shared server, meaning you are sharing resources and space with numerous other sites, your site will always be slower, because your site will be waiting in a queue. The best fix for this is to pay a little extra each month for a dedicated server.
We recommend Rackspace if you’re in the market for a high performing, dedicated server.
2. Server Location
Along the same line as server performance, server location also plays a part in the load speed of your site. Whenever a user tries to access your site, the information has to basically travel to reach it’s destination, their browser. The longer the travel time, the longer the wait will be.
So, for example, if your server is based in Texas and a user from Germany tries to access the site, they will have a longer time then a user that is trying to access the site from Colorado.
3. Traffic Overload
While this is not necessarily a terrible problem to have, if your site is experiencing more traffic then your server can handle it will cause the site to drastically slow down, or even break. Similar to a restaurant that has all it’s tables full, people will be put in a queue to access your site.
The easiest way to fix this issue is to send in a support ticket to your server techs to ask for an increase in bandwidth. This will allow for more users to access the site at once. Implementing a CDN, as mentioned in problem #2, will also help alleviate this issue. If your site is running on the WordPress CMS, you can also install WP Super Cache. The purpose of this plugin is to cache the content on your site which can save up to 70% server load.
4. Uncompressed, High-Quality Images
One of the most resource intensive parts of a website are images. Anyone that is has experienced dial-up will remember the days when an image would take minutes to fully load. Performance has definitely improved since the days of dial-up, but the rule still applies. A large image is going to take a long time to load up. If you’ve got a ton of large images on your website, you’re adding extra load time for every picture.
File formats are also important to keep in mind when adding images to your site. Browsers can easily load JPG, PNG, and GIF. But, certain formats such as TIFF and BMP are going to take longer to load.
So, when adding images to your site you want to make sure they are all resized to about how big they should be on the site. You also want to make sure you are using an optimal file format. You can also run all your images through compression software. If you are using WordPress, you can install the plugin Ewww Image Optimizer. This will automatically go through all the images in your Media Library and compress them. There are also standalone sites you can use to compress your images. For JPG’s use http://compressjpeg.com/ and for PNG’s use https://tinypng.com/
5. Code Density
An easy way to ease some of this density is to minify your files. The easiest way to do this, is to run them through a software and upload the files back to your server. A great site to use to is https://www.minifier.org/.
6. Too Many File Requests
The size of elements has a huge effect on load times for a site, but another factor to keep in mind is the amount of elements that are being loaded.
Let’s say that your website uses 60 file requests every time it loads up. If 100 people all access your site at once, that means 6,000 file requests in one second. If you’re on a small server, that’s going to massively slow things down.
Minifying or combining files is the easiest way to combat this issue. Use of a CDN will also help resolve this issue.
7. Too Many Plugins
To rectify this, take a look at the plugins you are currently using on your site, and determine if they are all essential in making your site run properly. A lot of the time, plugin features can easily be implemented by a web developer without the use of the plugin.
8. Unnecessary Redirects
Unnecessary redirects on a site can burden the server by having to look for the correct destination of a link. Redirects act like loading a page twice. In most cases, redirects should only be used if absolutely needed.
9. Outdated CMS
If you’re using a CMS such as WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla to manage your site, you’ll have probably noticed a regular popup asking you to install updates or new versions of the software.
Updates work to smooth out any kinks or problems that have been found in the software. Install the latest versions of all software and plugins to help load your site faster and more smoothly. You can read more on keeping your WordPress site updated here.